The Bad Guys Won!

Written by: Jeff Pearlman

Published By: HarperCollins Publishers

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an avid New York Mets fan.  This is not something that has come on in the past couple of years.  This is a family tradition passed down from my grandfather to my father to myself, my brother and my sister.  I’m fairly certain that this will be a tradition passed on to our children in the future.  How could you not love them?  Even at their worst, you will find scrappers on the team – guys that will never quit.  They’ve been the underdogs for many years and we love them for it. 

            Of course, it’s always nice when the underdogs win, and that was the way things were in 1986, when the New York Mets won the World Series.  We knew, even then, that our team wasn’t made up of saints.  We’d heard the news stories, seen the antics out on the field, but the team carried an electric charge that seemed to leap through the television or radio and grab you and that made us love them more.  I recently received a book about the New York Mets that sums up the sentiment in the hearts of many after that 1986 season – The Bad Guys Won! by Jeff Pearlman.

            The Bad Guys Won! is a discussion of the 1986 New York Mets and how they came to win the series that year.  Many books just tell the winning moments, but this book dishes the dirt, telling all the sordid behind the scenes details that fans may not have been aware of.  Did you know that Gary Carter was seen as somewhat of a camera hog by every team he ever played for?  Did you know that George Foster was the odd man out in that bunch of scrappers – a man that just couldn’t fit in?  (Not that he tried much.)  Did you know that The Scum Bunch was a nickname for the Mets who used to party all night and gamble?  That Roger Clemens was once a New York Mets drafted player, but that the organization didn’t see much future in him and thus lost him to another organization when the money they offered fell short of Clemens’ expectations?

            With The Bad Guys Won!, we learn that the New York Mets of 1986 were a different sort of breed of baseball players.  Manager Davey Johnson had told them that they would win the ’86 pennant and they believed him wholeheartedly, to the point that they became cocky and arrogant.  Other teams in the league hated them.  Still others respected their abilities.  Their antics created a stir both on and off the field, resulting in numerous arrests and quite a few fist fights.  Author Jeff Pearlman did his homework when writing this book, gleaning information from the players of the day, the Mets stars themselves, and Mets staffers, including batting boys, press secretaries and more. 

            But this book goes beyond the 1986 series.  It takes a look at how the different stars of the team got to the Mets in the first place, how they fared on the team, and what happened after the series.  In fact, there’s a whole section devoted to telling the reader exactly what happened to each player on the team that year, no matter how big or small their contribution.  The book also discusses the dismantling of the team by Frank Cashen, a decision that could have destroyed the franchise if Mets fans weren’t such fanatics about their team.  His decisions after the World Series of 1986 cost him any hope of coming close to another pennant in the following years.  Thus, to fans, despite all the brashness and downright nastiness of the team members, the true Bad Guy of this book is really Frank Cashen.

            The Bad Guys Won! is an in depth look at a New York Mets team that should have won more than one pennant.  The book is a quick and enjoyable read that will elicit groans in some places and laughter in others.  Complete with color pictures of some of the more interesting moments in the 1986 season, The Bad Guys Won! is a must for any New York Mets fan’s book collection.  It’s a definite must have for those of us who lived through the nail-biting 1986 Championships and World Series.  A great piece of nostalgia for us “old timers” with a bit of behind the scenes information that we may not have been privy to at the time.  Definitely go out and buy this book – you won’t be disappointed.


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